National Police Remembrance Day

As we heard, National Police Remembrance Day, 29 September, is the day that serving police officers and we as the broader community remember their fallen colleagues. The men and women of the police force are vital to each and every community, protecting 24 million of us every day. That’s what they do. There are over 6,500 officers in WA, and they put their lives at risk every single day.

Since the turn of the millennium, eight police officers have tragically lost their lives in Western Australia, and that’s eight too many. They’ve left behind friends, families and colleagues who loved and cared for them. I acknowledge the officers who’ve lost their lives: Constable Mark Loohuys, Detective Senior Constable Michael Jenkins, Constable Gavin Capes, First Class Constable David Dewar, Senior Constable Donald Everett, Senior Constable Phillip Ruland and Constable Damian Murphy.

I want to also talk about the fact that we lost 29-year-old Senior Constable Jamie Pearson, who was driving an unmarked police car along the Bussell Highway near Capel in 2004. His car collided with another vehicle and, tragically, he lost his life. Senior Constable Pearson only ever wanted to be a police officer. He took pride in his job. He was very well respected by his peers, particularly his senior colleagues, and of course he was greatly loved by his parents, Gary and Kathleen.
He joined the force as a cadet in 1993 and graduated in 1995. He was posted to Bunbury Police Station in 2002. At the end of last year’s Police Remembrance Day ceremony in Bunbury the conference room of the South West Police Complex was officially named the Pearson Room in memory and honour of Jamie.

I also want to talk about the police officers who suffer physical and emotional trauma while doing their job to protect us. In Harvey, Sergeant Laurie Morley suffered serious and debilitating injuries after he was assaulted by several youths. At the time, he was protecting a member of the public. He was off duty, and he was in Harvey. He saw some young person being attacked by four or five adults. He intervened to help protect the young man but was punched, shoved and choked. It was his 40 years of experience that enabled him to get all of them to the police station in Harvey, but then the group attacked the youth again. In trying to stop this attack, Sergeant Morley was attacked by the group. They had him in a headlock, they hip-and-shouldered him, and it is believed he was also hit by a hammer. He was king hit at one point and lost a tooth. The damage was so severe he needed to have 46 weeks off work. He’s had four surgeries to date and several medical injection procedures. Another surgery on his wrist is coming up. Laurie could have died on that day. Attending officers at the scene found the hammer and a 13-inch knife in the garden bed where the incident occurred. The impact on Laurie, on his wife, Jo, on his colleagues and on the people of Harvey community is severe.

I really want to thank all of the Laurie Morleys, every policeman and policewoman who faces this, as we know, every single day in the jobs they do to keep us safe. I really want to thank Laurie particularly. When you’re the police officer and the sergeant in a small community, everybody knows you and everybody generally respects the work that’s done. We all rely on Laurie and we rely on the police officers in our small communities to keep us all safe. We can’t do without these amazing people, and I want to acknowledge the trauma for people like Laurie Morley, the trauma for his wife, Jo, and even the fact there’s so much that he can’t do that he used to do and the impact that that has on physical and mental health. He will carry the results of this right throughout his life now, and he would be typical of police officers right around Australia.

So, in thanking the member for this private member’s motion, I want to pay my great respects and honour and thank every single police officer right around Australia for the work that they do every single day, whether it’s in a small community like mine or in a major metropolitan centre, and the way that they protect us and make our communities safe. I just want to thank them all, and I have great respect for what they do.